Any company can experience a run of one, three, or five years of success, but very few organizations possess the intrinsic ability to enjoy sustained success over many years. And when you study some of the most successful companies in the world, it becomes clear that innovation is the driving force behind their achievements.
Innovative Companies Prioritize These Three Habits
We spend a lot of time on this site talking about all of the neat things tech companies are doing and how they’re revolutionizing their respective industries, but the truth is that any company – within or without of the technology sector – can be labeled “innovative.” It all starts with prioritizing the following habits.
1. Let Innovation Go Beyond Products
Let’s be clear about one thing from the start: Innovation has to go beyond your company’s products themselves. In other words, innovation isn’t just about developing new products that have never been seen before. It has just as much to do with modernizing your organization’s approach to business and the way in which you manage people, care for the local community, and steward the resources you’ve been given.
This company in the healthy eating space is the perfect example. Not only do they look for ways to develop safer and more nutritious food items for children and their families, but they’re also committed to bettering the environment through using 100 percent recycled materials, developing a product end-of-life recycling program, and using certified carbon credits.
2. Encourage Employees to Pursue New Things
Innovative companies don’t live in silos. Even if they have an ultra-successful product on the shelves, they’re always looking for ways to adopt new technologies and move in unique directions. They understand that the future will look drastically different than the present and that there’s no sense in lagging behind. Furthermore, they know who’s at the heart of innovation: the employees.
Innovative companies don’t just train employees to handle menial tasks or perfect processes. They nudge employees in new directions, knowing that their pursuits will ultimately benefit the organization. Amazon is a great example of this.
“Amazon is well-known for not indulging in much in the way of flashy perks,” says Fast Company, who recently ranked Amazon as the sixth most innovative company in 2016. “But it does pay 95% of tuition for employees who takes classes in in-demand areas such as nursing and aircraft servicing – even if they have nothing to do with someone’s responsibilities at Amazon.”
While your organization may not be able to pay tuition for employees who want to take unrelated courses, you get the picture. Training employees to be well-rounded individuals is always a good investment.
3. Tie Compensation to Innovation
A big problem many companies isn’t the creation of ideas, but rather that employees hoard their ideas. They don’t know whether or not they should hand them over, or leave the company and take them with them on the way out. Is there a way around this issue?
“One way is by paying not for the future but for the recent past, by compensating executives retrospectively when innovation proves successful,” consultant Donald Delves says. “You can do so by tying incentive pay to the sales figures for new products.”
Are You Making Innovation a Priority?
It’s easy to look at other companies and marvel at their constant innovation, but at some point, you have to turn your gaze internally and acknowledge what your own organization is doing. Are you making innovation a priority? If the answer is no, the solution to this problem is as simple as adopting the right habits.
It’s time to put your business on the fast track to success – are you ready?